Trecwn: The village living off bottled water for seven months

By Matt Lloyd
BBC News

  • Published
Media caption,

One resident says water comes out of taps "looking like a cup of tea"

Families in a small village are living off bottled water - eight months after problems emerged over their supply.

Water supplied to 35 homes in Trecwn, Pembrokeshire was branded "unfit for consumption" by an expert in February.

Since then, residents have fought a legal battle while refusing to drink or wash children with the water amid health concerns.

Now they fear they will be left with a £1.5m bill to replace old iron pipes under the privately-owned land.

Sarah Leask gave birth to her third child Eva just eight weeks ago and said she was scared to use water from the tap to bath her baby.

"I'm lucky that I'm breast-feeding because it would be a nightmare to use the green tap water to make up baby bottles," she said.

"And I don't want to bath her in it either because you just don't know what it's going to do to such young skin.

"It's hard enough with three children without this. And I'm paying a lot of money for water that I cannot use."

Image caption,
Sarah Leask refuses to bath her new baby in the "green" tap water

The houses on Barham Road used to belong to the old Royal Navy munitions base at Trecwn, which shut nearly 30 years ago, but the street's water supply still comes from there.

Residents are billed £50 a month by the site's new owners, property company Manhattan Loft.

The company has previously denied there is a problem but tests carried out on the water in February and March showed iron levels of about 1800 micrograms per litre - nine times the legal limit of 200 micrograms.

Residents have also complained the water is discoloured and smells strongly of chlorine.

Image source, Luke Pieniak
Image caption,
The water passes through an old iron pipe its way to the village

Alex Pieniak said: "It's a real concern for our health to have water with such high levels of iron."

"It's a nightmare for everyday life but we've just to try and get on with it."

The problems with the water are caused when it passes through an old iron pipe on its way to the homes.

However the matter of who should pay for replacing the pipework has caused delays.

Image caption,
Alex Pieniak is worried about iron levels in the water

Landowner Manhattan Loft has declined to comment though it will attend a community meeting with residents, the council and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water on 7 November.

Residents said they were caught in the middle of being unable to sell their homes and facing the prospect of having to replacing the pipes themselves.

"We've heard it's going to cost £1.5m to repair the pipes, which is going to take a lifetime to pay," said Luke Pieniak.

Image caption,
Residents are being supplied with bottled water twice every week

However the local councillor believes a "community approach" is the best hope the residents have of a long-term solution.

Sam Kurtz said: "It's not good enough that this has gone on for so long.

"It's causing a lot of worry for people who are afraid to use the water.

"Hopefully now with the meeting planned, there is a way forward."

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